488 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHAP. public life." l There was no great council of the nobles to control the monarch, such as existed among the Parthians ; nor was there an Ecclesiastical Council. And • yet the power of the Shah was limited. The Sultan of Turkey is acknowledged to be the Khalifa, or Vice- Regent of the Prophet, and as such claims the religious veneration of his subjects. But the Shahs of Persia, descended from a Turkish tribe, can advance no such claim ; and the religious power is vested in the Mujtahids of Kerbela and Najaf, who, it is to be noted, live outside Persia. As the agitation against the Tobacco R£gie proved, their influence is a power to be reckoned with. It is difficult to define the exact limitations to which the Shah was subject. In case of a rebellion or of a conspiracy against the throne, the monarch could put to death hundreds of his subjects and confiscate their property. Again, members of the royal family, ministers of State and all public officers and dependents were entirely in the power of the Shah, who could sentence them to punishment, which was as a rule carried out immediately. In other cases where the death penalty could be inflicted law and custom had to be observed. The taxes were collected, concessions were granted, and presents were offered, all for the sole benefit of the Shah and his courtiers, whose extravagance kept Persia poor. On the other hand, the monarch for his own sake was bound to maintain an army to protect his throne. En- lightened or religious Shahs, too, have spent large sums in building bridges and caravanserais and in erecting mosques and shrines. The Kajar dynasty has maintained an armed force which, owing to corruption and the extinction of military spirit in the upper classes, has become hopelessly in- efficient; so much that it hardly counted in the recent revolution. Few if any public works can be set to the credit of the Kajar dynasty. His Duties.—The duties of the Shah were heavy. Daily he received his principal ministers, who brought him reports and .took the royal orders. After this he 1 Curzon i. 433.